West Salem, WI- The Stars and Cars of the ARCA Midwest Tour will battle for 200 laps on Sunday afternoon October 11, the curtain closing event of the 51st annual Oktoberfest Race Weekend at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway. This is the first Tour race following a highly dramatic Joe Shear Classic 200 at Dells Raceway Park over Labor Day Weekend, which saw Johnny Sauter claim the checkered flag after a ten lap shootout with defending Midwest Tour Champion and current point leader Casey Johnson and 2019 Tour Rookie of the Year Gabe Sommers. Now Johnson, who recovered from last lap contact with Sauter and the backstretch wall to finish third, leads the ARCA Midwest Tour point standings by sixteen over Sommers headed into the final event of 2020.
Johnson continues to set the bar in Late Model racing throughout Wisconsin. Hot off his unprecedented sixth Wisconsin State Championship at Jefferson Speedway this past weekend, the 2019 ARCA Midwest Tour Champion once again finds himself atop the point standings headed into Oktoberfest. Super Late Model victories at Slinger, Wisconsin International and Dells Raceway Park have kept the Edgerton, WI native busy this season. A two-time Champion in both Tundra Super Late Model and Big 8 Late Model action, Johnson counts three track titles at Jefferson, two in WIR’s Fox River Racing Club, a WIR Red, White and Blue State Championship as well as two win’s in Rockford’s National Short Track Championships amongst his accomplishments. An Oktoberfest win on Sunday would mark his second marquee Midwest Tour victory, having won the 2017 Dixieland 250.
Much like Johnson who was the 2016 Midwest Tour Rookie of the Year, Plover, Wisconsin’s Gabe Sommers is looking to build upon his 2019 Rookie of the Year campaign. On the strength of three top five finishes this year, including his runner-up performance at Dells, Sommers is right in the mix for his first Midwest Tour title. Having won the 2019 Detjens Memorial at State Park Speedway, Sommers has been a quick study and one to watch each time the Midwest Tour rolls into town. A ninth-place finish in last year’s Oktoberfest 200 secured the Rookie honors for Sommers. He narrowly missed the World Series of Asphalt Super Late Model Championship at New Smyrna during 2019 February Speedweeks.
He has twice been the runner-up in Midwest Tour points and currently sits twenty-one points behind Johnson, in third place. Paul Shafer, Jr, the 2013 Illiana Motor Speedway Super Late Model Champion is the current Super Late Model point leader at Grundy County Speedway and looks to secure that accolade this upcoming weekend before setting his sights on Oktoberfest. After having battled eventual winner Ty Majeski, Shafer finished third behind Canada’s Cayden Lapcevich in August’s Gandrud Auto Group 250 at WIR. He backed that up with his second career Tour win at Grundy’s Wayne Carter Classic in late August. Shafer who calls Portage, IN home, may prove to be tough to beat at LaCrosse, having posted the best finish of any of the Championship contenders at Oktoberfest, a second place two years ago.
Justin Mondeik started the 2020 ARCA Midwest Tour campaign by winning his first career Tour event this July. He bested a tough field of Stars and Cars and added his name to the list of winners of the annual Detjens Memorial event at State Park Speedway. With his attention on claiming track titles at two Central Wisconsin tracks near his home of Gleason, WI in 2020, it was not expected that Mondeik would also be in contention for the Midwest Tour Championship. Having secured the track Championships at both State Park and Golden Sands Speedway, Mondeik who also won five features in a row at Upper Michigan’s Norway Speedway has not finished outside of the top ten in Tour competition this season.
Sitting fifth and trailing fourth place Mondeik by just one point and point leader Johnson by thirty points is Minnesota’s Jonathan Eilen. Following an abbreviated season last year, Eilen has returned to the ARCA Midwest Tour full-time, where he was crowned Champion following the 2012 season. A fastest qualifying lap at Grundy in August coupled with a pair of fifth place efforts coming at Grundy and State Park Speedway has kept the five-time Tour feature winner in the hunt for his second Championship. The past three Oktoberfests have seen finishes of fourth, third and sixth for the Hampton Hustler.
Another former Tour Champion that is on the outside looking in is Dalton Zehr. Currently in sixth, thirty-one points out of the lead, Zehr has put together an impressive string of Oktoberfest finishes in his last three attempts. Having sat out the 2019 running, Zehr finished fourth in his Championship year of 2018, following up a fourth place finish in 2017 and a sixth place Fest showing in 2016. A broken belt caused his engine to overheat during the most recent Tour event at the Dells, relegating him to a last place finish. Zehr, formerly of Daytona Beach, FL now calls Verona, WI home. A win at Fest coupled with some bad luck in the 28 car starting field by the top five in points would be welcome by Zehr and his team, as a first place finish to a seventeenth place finish represents a 31 point swing in point calculations.
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The ARCA Midwest Tour Super Late Models will qualify and contest preliminary events on Saturday October 10 followed by a Last Chance event and 200-lap Championship Feature on Sunday afternoon October 11. A total of 17 divisions of racing action will make up the 51st Oktoberfest Race Weekend October 8-11, 2020. For additional information including Schedules, Rules, Camper Village information, Registration and more, visit www.oktoberfestraceweekend.com or call 608-786-1525.
ARCA Midwest Tour Feature Points
*Subtract one point for each position thereafter